The World War II genre is one that has been milked for many years now, with just about every interesting style of gameplay or vision being utilized by several different series. Call of Duty was one such franchise that found so much success with it that it is now the biggest franchise in gaming and has 3 different developers making sequels on a 3-year cycle. There are countless imitators out there trying to find even a sliver of juice left in this machine, because they know that it will sell due its pedigree alone. Has developer CI Games found something with Enemy Front to breathe some fresh air back into this genre? The simple answer is no.
The concept of Enemy Front is pretty simple: you are a war correspondent named Robert Hawkins that is right in the middle of World War II. You will journey across many levels containing wave after wave of enemies and it is your job to get to the end in one piece. In the midst of this you will come across some characters that will help you along your journey, and the occasional flashback sequence will shine some more light on the big picture of the war. Really, though, this is a no-nonsense FPS game that requires little more than you to shoot, shoot and shoot some more.
That isn’t to say that it doesn’t attempt some other things to liven up this otherwise stale formula, as Enemy Front presents several scenarios where you can take a stealthier approach rather then going in guns blazing. However, in my experience with this game I found that just about every time I played that stealth made things take much longer and was really unnecessary due to the fact that just firing wildly will work every time. The enemies also seem to have cat-like senses, so when I even tried to be stealth-like I found that it would eventually result in the whole area becoming alert anyway. I’d like to think that this is due to my own incompetence with stealth mechanics, but due to my success with the genre in other games I don’t think that is the case.
Although straight-forward gunplay is something that I have no problem with on paper, the way that Enemy Front implements it is like watching paint dry. Every scenario you find yourself in is relatively the same, with the level design, objectives and methods of getting through the level being pretty stagnant. You have to deal with this formula over and over and over again, making the game overstay its welcome far before you get to the credits. Plus, you have to deal with all of the little mechanical flubs along the way that make the experience even more infuriating. I found that there were times when I was completely behind cover and found that I was still getting hit by bullets and ultimately getting killed. Other times I would be shooting enemies directly in the chest, but the first couple of shots wouldn’t register at all.
Graphically, Enemy Front is pretty sub-par. While the environments are decent enough from a distance as most locations are outside in lush environments, the closer you get to any objects the ugly details become more clear. Very ugly textures mar just about every surface and character models are about as dull as can be. The cinematic sequences are even worse, as we are given close-up shots on speaking characters and notice that the lip-syncing with the dialogue is atrocious and the characters display little to no emotion at all. Couple that with just as unimpressive voice acting and you have a presentation that lacks any kind of appeal.
The game also has an online component, where you have the option of taking on people across the entire world in 3 whole game modes. The game modes you have to select from are Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Radio Transmission, but I am unable to report how any of these game modes perform as I could not get one single match going. I tried 5 different times on all 3 game modes and waited around 4 hours in the pre-game lobby in total, but could not find enough people to get a match going. This close after release, that is not a good sign at all. The only information I can give you here is that it is incredibly difficult to find a match on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
It’s rare that I come across a game where I am continuously dumbfounded by the rate at which it’s coming up short. It’s par for the course for any game to have some faults here and there, but usually they are easy to overlook thanks to a core mechanic that the developers really get right. The problem with Enemy Front is that it drops the ball in pretty much every area imaginable; never doing anything so badly that it’s unplayable, but never coming anywhere close to a point where the experience could be enjoyable. The World War II genre hasn’t been interesting in years, but Enemy Front has given us what is easily one of the worst examples of the genre yet.